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2003-2004 Case Study: School District of Philadelphia, PA

2003-2004 Case Study: School District of Philadelphia, PA

The School District of Philadelphia began using the First In Math® online program in more than 2,600 third- through eighth-grade classrooms throughout the district during the 2003-2004 school year. The first-year implementation of the First In Math® program was a resounding success, with 2004 Pennsylvania State Standard Assessment (PSSA) results showing a significant increase in overall performance in math.


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Preface

The passing of the federal "No Child Left Behind" legislation has placed urban school administrators under pressure to ensure that their schools meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in core subject areas. To make AYP in math during 2003/2004, 35% or more of a school's student population was required to score at the "proficient and above" level on state standardized tests. In the 2004/2005 school year, that benchmark becomes 45%.


The School District of Philadelphia used funding from their Urban Systemic Program (USP) grant for the implementation of a mathematics intervention to target the needs of its urban population base. The First In Math® program was used in more than 2,600 third through eighth grade classrooms throughout the district during the 2003-2004 school year. The program was selected to meet criteria defined by district CEO, Paul Vallas, that an intervention program in mathematics must: 1) strengthen basic skills; 2) contain a technology element; and 3) create competition to motivate students to achieve. The first-year implementation of the First In Math® program was a resounding success.

Students in the District logged over 216,000 hours on the First In Math® site, proving their dedication and willingness to tackle a range of increasingly challenging math problems from simple addition through decimals, fractions, exponents and complex algebra.

The 2004 Pennsylvania State Standard Assessment (PSSA) results for the School District of Philadelphia showed a significant increase in overall performance in math. The scores showed a 7.4% increase in 5th grade students scoring at the proficient and above level. Improvement among their 8th grade students was a dramatic 11.1% increase. These results placed the district ahead of Pennsylvania's average increase in scores, a 5.2% in 5th grade students and a 6.1% increase in 8th grade students.

The First In Math® program, developed by Suntex International Inc., draws on the company's 16 years of experience in stimulating the achievement process in mathematics among diverse populations. The combination of the family of 24® game products with current technology allowed Suntex to design an online program that has a proven track record of improving math skills and raising overall test scores. Suntex provided follow up to ensure materials were used and the students were receiving all of the incentives set for each achievement level. Teachers benefited by using the real-time assessment feature to see which teams/students were using the site, the percentage of students mastering basic facts, the degree of students' test preparedness, how far the students in the district were progressing and more. The online assessment reports allow teachers to identify which students are struggling and can intervene significantly earlier than in the past. Educators can also try out the games for themselves and improve their own numerical fluency and technology quotient.

Case Histories

Northwest Region. One of the largest regions in the district, it included 26 schools, 309 classrooms and 8,326 students that were actively involved in the First In Math® (FIM) program. These students were among the top performers in the FIM program, having spent over 30,000 hours on the site. The Northwest Region's PSSA test scores showed dramatic improvement.   5th grade student scores increased 15.1% (double the district's 7.4% and nearly triple the state's 5.2% increase).   8th grade student scores increased 16.6% (exceeded the district's 11.1% and was more than 2 1/2 times the state's 6.1% increase).

 

5th Grade
School District of Philadelphia Northwest Region Schools
2004 - 2003 PSSA Test Scores in Math

School Name
% Proficient
& up 2004
% Proficient
& up 2003
% Change
04 - 03
Enrollment
2004
# Students
Proficient
and up
2004
# Students
Proficient
and up
2003*
Charles W Henry School
55.4
22.1
33.3
57
32
13
Cook-Wissahickon School
69.1
60.0
9.1
59
41
35
Day Anna B School
33.4
20.8
12.6
90
30
19
Dobson James School
50.0
44.1
5.9
28
14
12
Edmonds Franklin S School
55.0
29.1
25.9
106
58
31
Ellwood School
46.1
40.4
5.7
87
40
35
Fitler Academics Plus
50.9
29.0
21.9
59
30
17
Houston Henry E School
33.3
18.3
15.0
82
27
15
Howe Julia Ward School
76.8
53.5
23.3
53
41
28
Jenks John S School
37.2
47.0
-9.8
53
20
25
Levering William School
38.6
77.8
-39.2
47
18
37
Lingelbach Anna L School
51.9
30.9
21.0
54
28
17
McCloskey John F School
18.4
10.8
7.6
69
13
7
Mifflin Thomas School
46.4
50.0
-3.6
30
14
15
Pennell Joseph School
29.9
7.1
22.8
84
25
6
Pennypacker Samuel School
45.7
12.0
33.7
89
41
11
Prince Hall
40.7
19.8
20.9
101
41
20
Rowen William School
41.4
24.3
17.1
89
37
22
Shawmont School
67.2
41.3
25.9
71
48
29
Widener Memorial
33.3
0.0
33.3
8
3
0
Wister John School
21.9
17.2
4.7
63
14
11
Total Students
1379
613
405
% Total Students Proficient and up
 
44.5
29.3
% Change Regionwide 2004 - 2003
 
15.1
 

Northwest Region's 15.1 % increase is double the School District of Philadelphia's increase of 7.4%, and nearly triple the state's increase of 5.2%.  NOTE: LEVERING's 39.2% decrease can be explained in part to the fact that only 18 of 47 (5th gr) students were active. LEVERING 5th graders earned only 1,907 total stickers (106 stickers/student) as compared to EDMONDS 5th graders who earned 74,641 total stickers (655 stickers/student).

* Assumes the enrollment figures for 2003 are the same as 2004.

8th Grade
School District of Philadelphia Northwest Region Schools
2004 - 2003 PSSA Test Scores in Math

School Name
% Proficient
& up 2004
% Proficient
& up 2003
% Change
04 - 03
Enrollment
2004
# Students
Proficient
and up
2004
# Students
Proficient
and up
2003*
AMY NW
32.2
18.5
13.7
92
30
17
Charles W Henry School
48.5
63.6
-15.1
70
34
45
Dobson James School
61.6
31.1
30.5
41
25
13
Fitler Academics Plus
58.5
16.9
41.6
55
32
9
Hill-Freedman
84.7
43.5
41.2
79
67
34
Houston Henry E School
44.1
21.8
22.3
87
38
19
Jenks John S School
55.6
48.2
7.4
57
32
27
Leeds Morris E MS
17.5
21.3
-3.8
209
37
45
Levering William School
43.3
21.5
21.8
64
28
14
Mifflin Thomas School
47.2
14.3
32.9
36
17
5
Shawmont School
50.5
37.8
12.7
93
47
35
Wagner Gen Louis MS
50.0
25.2
24.8
298
149
75
Widener Memorial
14.3
0
14.3
28
4
0
Total Students
1209
539
338
% Total Students Proficient and up
 
44.6
28.0
% Change Regionwide 2004 - 2003
 
16.6
 

Northwest Region's 16.6% increase exceeds the School District of Philadelphia's increase of 11.1%, and is more than 2 1/2 times the state's increase of 6.1%.

* Assumes the enrollment figures for 2003 are the same as 2004.

 

Schools

5th Grade

Anne Frank Elementary School - 5th grade students here were ranked #1 in the FIM program for Philadelphia's Northeast Region and ranked #4 in the district. The school's PSSA scores jumped 14%, making Frank ES the highest-scoring school in the Northeast Region with 85.1% of 5th grade students performing at the proficient and above levels.

Longstreth Elementary School - These students were ranked #1 in the FIM program for the Southwest Region and #5 in the district. While only 7.1% of 5th grade students were proficient in math in the previous school year, students demonstrated their willingness to work hard in the FIM program, and reached 38.1% proficient this year (31.0% increase).

Charles Henry School - Ranked #4 in the Northwest Region in the FIM program, 5th grade students went from 22.1% proficient to 55.4% proficient (33.3% increase).

Prince Hall School - Ranked #2 in the FIM program in the Northwest Region. 5th grade students achieved a 20.9% improvement, moving from 19.8% the previous year to 40.7% proficient, in the 2003/2004 year. This effort helped the school make AYP in math.

Fairhill Elementary School - Ranked #1 in the FIM program in the Central East Region, 5th grade students achieved a 24.3% increase in PSSA scores, rising from 30.3% to 54.6% proficient.

8th Grade

Hill-Freedman Middle School - With a predominantly African American student population, Hill-Freedman is an excellent example of the First In Math® program's ability to motivate the desire to excel in a diverse student population. The school was ranked #3 in the state on the FIM site on May 17th, 2004 when students assembled for an awards ceremony to honor their achievement. The release of the PSSA test results confirmed an extraordinary 41.2% improvement among Hill-Freedman's 8th grade students, 84.7% of who scored at the proficient and above levels.

Fitler School - Ranked #1 in the FIM program in the Northwest Region and #6 in the district, these 8th grade students worked hard and made everyone proud when their test scores increased 41.6%, taking Fitler from 16.9% proficient the previous year to 58.5% proficient in 2004.

Conwell Middle School - Located in the Central East Region of Philadelphia, this school has a large minority population. Approximately 40% of students were from non-English speaking homes, whose native languages included not only Spanish, but also Romanian, Albanian and Haitian dialects. The First In Math® program motivated Conwell 8th grade students to leave a "legacy of excellence" upon their graduation. The outcome of their hard work and dedication were the #1, #2 and #3 statewide ranked positions for all three 8th grade teams by March of 2004. PSSA test results again reflected Conwell's achievement with a 25.1% jump among 8th grade students. 72.2% scored at the proficient and above levels. A dramatic improvement over the previous year scores at 41.7%. (What makes Conwell's achievement so remarkable is that most students in this school did not have Internet access at home. These students made the effort to come to school as early as 6:30 AM to use the computer lab before class, clearly demonstrating their commitment to success in the First In Math® Program.)

Reynolds School - Ranked #1 in the FIM program in the district and the state, these 8th grade students showed a 27.6% improvement. Their hard work took Reynolds from 10.7% proficient in the previous year to 38.3% proficient this year, helping the school to achieve AYP for mathematics.

Dobson School - Ranked #6 in the Northwest Region and #14 for the district in the FIM program, Dobson 8th grade students achieved a 30.5% improvement from the previous year PSSA results.

Farrell School - Ranked #1 in FIM in the Northeast Region and #4 in the district. Farrell's 8th grade students achieved a 20% improvement in their PSSA results, from 47% proficient the previous year to 67% proficient in the 2003/2004 year.

5th Grade
School District of Philadelphia
Top 14 Schools in First In Math® Program
2004 - 2003 PSSA Test Scores

FIM
Rank
School
Name
Region FIM
Stickers/
Student
FIM
Students
Active
PSSA
2004 %
Proficient
& up
PSSA
2003 %
Proficient
& up
PSSA
2004-2003
% Change
Enrollment
2004
# Students
Proficient
& up 2004
# Students
Proficient
& up 2003*
1 Pollock East 825 70 70.5 62.5 8.0 74 52 46
2 Spruance Northeast 731 140 53.5 50.7 2.8 145 78 74
3 Edmonds Northwest 654 114 55.0 29.1 25.9 106 58 31
4 Anne Frank Northeast 648 156 85.1 71.1 14.0 140 119 100
5 Longstreth Southwest 627 84 38.1 7.1 31.0 87 33 6
6 Fox Chase Northeast 538 62 45.1 34.1 11.0 56 25 19
7 Comly Northeast 505 67 61.8 50.0 11.8 70 43 35
8 Fairhill Central East 499 62 54.6 30.3 24.3 60 33 18
9 Prince Hall Northwest 497 92 40.7 19.8 20.9 101 41 20
10 Howe Northwest 492 51 76.8 53.5 23.3 53 41 28
11 Hancock Northeast 488 82 82.6 65.7 16.9 72 59 47
12 Charles Henry Northwest 470 54 55.4 22.1 33.3 57 32 13
13 Meredith South 466 57 65.0 45.1 19.9 58 38 26
14 Moffet Central East 465 76 65.0 36.6 28.4 65 42 24
TOTAL STUDENTS
1144 694 487
% Total Students Proficient and Above
  60.7 42.6
% Change of Group 2004 - 2003
  18.1  

The Top 14 First In Math® Schools' 18.1 % increase is nearly 2 1/1 times the School District of Philadelphia's increase of 7.4%, and is more than triple the state's increase of 5.2%.

 

8th Grade
School District of Philadelphia
Top 14 Schools in First In Math® Program - 8th Grade
2004 - 2003 PSSA Test Scores

FIM
Rank
School
Name
Region FIM
Stickers/
Student
FIM
Students
Active
PSSA
2004 %
Proficient
PSSA
2003
% Proficient
& up
PSSA
2004-2003
% Change
Enrollment
2004
# Students
Proficient
& up 2004
# Students
Proficient
& up 2003
1 Reynolds Central 948 36
38.3
10.7
27.6
36
14
4
2 Conwell MS Central East 737 240
72.2
47.1
25.1
224
162
106
3 Meredith South 564 49
80.6
62.7
17.9
63
51
40
4 Farrell Northeast 538 107
67.0
47.0
20.0
101
68
47
5 Hamilton Southwest 461 71
72.6
80.0
-7.4
51
37
41
6 Fitler Northwest 460 58
58.5
16.9
41.6
55
32
9
7 Hill-Freedman Northwest 437 57
84.7
43.5
41.2
79
67
34
8 Charles Henry Northwest 422 69
48.5
63.6
-15.1
70
34
45
9 Greenberg Northeast 417 101
75.0
70.1
4.9
85
64
60
10 Clemente MS North 381 350
11.7
6.5
5.2
323
38
21
11 AMY Northwest Northwest 359 89
32.2
18.5
13.7
92
30
17
12 Shawmont Northwest 351 99
50.5
37.8
12.7
93
47
35
13 Creighton North 332 88
30.5
15.3
15.2
107
33
16
14 Dobson Northwest 330 44
61.6
31.1
30.5
41
25
13
TOTAL STUDENTS
1420
700
487
% Total Students Proficient and Above
 
49.3
34.3
% Change of Group 2004 - 2003
 
15.0